Billionaires without Borders
Billionaires without Borders

Billionaires without Borders – The New Feudalism


The interaction between the extremely rich and our country has dramatically changed, in the last couple of decades.

There are many long-term issues about wealth disparity and corruption:

  • The rich have been getting dramatically richer since Reagan nearly halved the taxes paid by the highest income bracket. In that time, the top one percent of Americans have seen their income more than quadruple. In the same time, 80% of the population has seen their income stagnate or fall.
  • The extremely wealthy have long used the media to influence policy. William Randolph Hearst used his newspapers to inflame public sentiment and push the U.S into the Spanish American War. Much of Rupert Murdoch’s career has been using his wealth and media outlets to influence politics, starting in Australia and New Zealand, and then moving to the U.K. and the U.S. Murdoch’s Fox News practically created the Tea Party, hyping their early rallies and publishing fake photos of huge turnouts for rallies only attended by dozens of people.
  • Multiple wars have been fought for oil profits, and the CIA toppled a democratically elected leader in Iran – and helped fuel early radical Islamic – to protect BP’s oil interests. Dick Cheney’s Halliburton connections profiteered and mismanaged funds blatantly in the Iraq conflict.
  • There has been a self-feeding cycle of giving more money to the wealthy and big business while reducing regulation and responsibility. The money buys more influence, which they use to change laws to give themselves more money and more influence. It began in the eighties. Reagan not only handed the rich a huge tax cut while creating a huge national deficit, he deregulated media, and allowed media control to be condensed in the hands a small number of companies, while eliminating rules requiring factual and balanced reporting. Both parties undermined efforts for campaign finance reform. The influence of these changes culminated in super PACs and Citizens United allowing unlimited money to be funneled from the rich to political candidates. In the same period, think tanks began developing propaganda and distributing it over the internet as “news”.
  • The Koch brothers spend so much money manipulating politics that most Republicans fear to do against Koch policies, even if they disagree strongly. The Koch’s, the Mercer’s and other wealthy groups fund think tanks that produce legislation and propaganda to sell legislation, which is then passed on as fact and news to conservative media.

But none of that is new. The change is that while the wealthy used to bribe and manipulate U.S. politicians for financial gain, and American corporations profiteered and exploited around the world; generally, American corporations supported keeping America a strong, healthy and influential country. Yes, they would exploit America’s workers, resources, and economy, but now, the wealthy are seemingly dismantling America. Republicans are picking dangerous Russian enemies over our allies in Europe. Republican legislation, such as their healthcare bills, barely even make a pretense of doing good for the average American – all versions of the bill would hurt millions of people while giving a huge tax cut to the rich.

Why the change? The rich no longer need a strong America, and they no longer need longer need to keep Americans happy. Their influence through the media and propaganda-spewing think tanks is enough that they can convince the very Americans who they are screwing over to cheer the politicians and policies that are screwing them. More so, they can now make billion-dollar deals with corrupt leaders around the world that are more profitable than either supporting America or encouraging large-scale war. In short, the entire world is now their corrupt playground. They do not need to play nice at home anymore.

On top of this, when you look at the political motivations behind people like the Koch brothers, the Mercer’s, and “news” outlets like Breitbart, you will see two common threads. One is an adherence to anti-Enlightenment, proto-fascist philosophies that reject universal rights and freedoms in favor of amassing power in the hands of select individuals based upon wealth or ancestry. The other as adherence to the ugliest proto-Libertarian ideas that property rights trump all other rights, implicitly demanding a world in which the wealthy are free to exploit the rest of society.

These are not just greedy people hedonistically amassing wealth unchecked. These are people with an agenda, and their agenda is to undermine democracy and give themselves the control of national and world policy – not to make our country or the world a better place, but to give themselves absolute power because they think money alone -- not character, deeds, or insight – makes them better than other people.

What they seek is a new feudalism, with the wealthy playing the role of de facto royalty. I know a lot of politically conscious people who don’t believe things can get that much worse; they believe that the pendulum will swing back. I fear this is something different – not twenties America, but thirties Europe, and that if we do not protest, vote, and legislate to stop these people; in a generation or two, the fight will not be in our courts, media, and polls; it will be mass uprising in the streets against global tyranny that we let take hold through complacency and lack of effective information from the media. What we need to stand up for right now is not just stopping some disgusting conservative policies, it is stopping the dismantling and corruption of the foundations of democracy.